A Note from Emile Kurilof

Had Emily attended Kinderland she would have been in the class of 1975.
Her mother was Ruth Benn and her grandmother was Leah Hasenberg Benn, both of whom attended Kinderland.

I am 47 years old, but I did not go to Kinderland, but to Trywoodie. My parents did not send me or my sister to Kinderland because at the time they felt the facility was not in great shape. I wish they HAD sent me, because I might have learned some Yiddish. They never taught me themselves because, as in most families, they relied on the native tongue when discussing topics they didn't want us kids to hear about. Yiddish was actually my mom's first language, although she was born in the Bronx! My grandmother read me I.L. Peretz in English as bedtime stories, but she did teach me Yiddish songs, which I know by heart, but I don't always know what the words mean.

I did see the website with the old pictures, and I think I made out my grandma Leah in the Kinderland chorus, but I am not sure. I would be thrilled if someone does remember them. I miss them so much, and the wonderful world they represent to me.

Two stories:

When my mom was sick and dying of heart disease in the hospital she befriended a homeless young woman with kidney failure. Despite my mother's fragile state and almost constant pain, she mobilized the hospital to provide this woman services because she was obviously being neglected, and wrote a letter accusing the staff of racism and preoccupation with money. Then she gave the woman her shoes and coat because they discharged her back to the street.

When I was a little girl my grandmother was taking me on a walk in our Queens neighborhood and she spotted a store owner wearing a Yamulke hitting a homeless african american man who was loitering in front of his store. My 4 foot 10 grandma ran up to the man and grabbed his hand, told him to stop hitting the guy, that he was obviously sick and homeless, and told him that he should be ashamed to do such a thing when he was clearly identifying himself as a jew. She cursed at him in Yiddish and told him he was a shanda.( OF course she later whispered to me that religious observance did this to people). I think my family thought that the rich tradition of eastern european Jewish art, music, and political activism would never die, but it did. I try to teach it to my kids, but I don't really think they get it.

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